Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India today signed an MoU with the African Union (AU) represented by Scientific Technical and Research Commission (AU-STRC) in New Delhi.
The MoU will strengthen South-South collaboration in advancing health sciences research; enhance local capacity and ownership. Recognizing the common health challenges faced by limited public health resources the current initiative aspires to intensify cooperation and collaboration to develop cutting-edge, innovative and sustainable solutions catering to the health needs of respective regions of the globe.
The programme would focus on training and strengthening capacity of health professionals, researchers, regulators and industry staff; support research collaborations for developing preventive tools and improved diagnostics for diseases which are regional priorities in India and Africa strengthening product development and manufacturing capacities for drugs and diagnostics.
Dr. Eng. Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, AU-STRC said that it is relevant for India and Africa to work synergistically towards shared core priorities by leveraging on existing resources in the achievement of mutual health goals. Our need is to focus on indigenous development of safe, affordable and effective drugs, diagnostics and vaccines towards addressing specific common regional disease burden and nurturing an ecosystem that has a strong impact on transforming the health standards of the population, Dr Hamdy added.
Dr. Balram Bhargava, Secretary DHR and DG, ICMR said that this MoU is a major step to help enrich global health research and stitch it to regional needs of India and Africa. The deliberations charted through series of discussions with leading experts will ensure advancements in strategic and multifaceted regional cooperation to optimize available resources towards contesting shared challenges in health sciences.
India has taken significant strides in extending healthcare cooperation to the African region including pharmaceutical trade and product development, health research and capacity building to fight the scourge of fatal diseases affecting India and Africa. It is imperative to streamline and institute a dynamic framework focused on innovative collaborations that would build on and strengthen current efforts, and leverage on cross-regional strengths to ensure a long-term, sustained India-Africa partnership in health sciences research; Dr Bhargava added.
Dr. Neena Malhotra, JS (E & SA), Ministry of External Affairs, GOI briefed about the initiatives taken by GOI for collaboration between India and many African countries and extended support from MEA to strengthen this MoU.
Dr. S. Eswara Reddy, Drugs Controller General of India, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GoI highlighted regulatory mechanisms and India’s relationship with several African countries. He expressed interest to facilitate the collaborative arrangements in the ambit of this MoU.
The programme secretariat jointly managed by ICMR and AU-STRC would roll out the implementation plan.
An African delegation from AU-STRC visited India and attended this meeting alongside the key officials and representatives from the Government of India and other international agencies.
The delegation included Dr. Ahmed Hamdy, the Executive Director of AU-STRC; Dr. Mohammed Kyari, Senior Scientific Coordinator; Ms Kankindi Gloriose, Legal Officer; Mrs Johnson Marie Emmanuel, Special Assistant. The signing ceremony was also attended by the Ambassadors/representatives from various African High Commissions/Embassies in India.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Director General (DG) ICMR and Secretary, Department of Health Research; former DGs and Divisional Heads of ICMR, representatives from key Government of India Ministries such as Ministry of External Affairs, and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (Drug Controller General of India). Representatives from national and international agencies such as Wellcome Trust- DBT India Alliance and International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) were also present.